Many Americans don’t have an accurate image of older adults or the experience of senior living. They may readily accept fictional portrayals of seniors on TV or in movies as fact. Or, maybe they have known just a few older persons and base their perceptions on those alone. In reality, retirees today are defying stereotypes and the images some people hold in their minds.
Extraordinary seniors are showing what can be accomplished by ignoring the generally accepted stereotypes of aging. Though the experiences of these three Americans might not be typical, they are becoming more common as seniors push physical, intellectual and creative limits.
- Carmen Herrera, now 102, sold her first work of art at 89 and had her inaugural exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at 101.
- Lew Hollander, 87, is a triathlete and the oldest man to finish an Ironman World Championship triathlon, at age 82.
- Tao Porchon-Lynch, 99, holds the Guinness World Records title for oldest yoga instructor. She and her husband opened their yoga studio in New York when she was 64.
As inspiring as these three are—and there are many others like them—we don’t have to be world champions or record holders to help turn the tables on stereotypes of aging.
Here are seven myths about senior living that vast numbers of seniors prove false every day.
- Seniors who remain employed are unproductive and inefficient. Actually, a 2010 study found the performance of workers aged 65-80 was more stable and consistent from day to day than that of workers aged 20-31.
- Seniors are unable to do much or contribute to society. Most older persons are mobile and active, with many personal interests. Having a strong work ethic, they volunteer for charitable causes and assist family and friends with home repairs, transportation, child care and more.
- They are uninterested in love and romance. Retirees desire companionship and commonly develop romantic interests, even dating and marrying into their ‘90s. Warm your heart by reading our own happy-ever-after story. (To hear about intimacy in the golden years, check out this segment of The New York Times “Modern Love” podcast.)
- Seniors are lonely and depressed. Only 1 in 8 older Americans experience depression, according to WebMD, and 1 in 6 say they are lonely, according to the Pew Research Center. Most American retirees today lead busy, socially active lives.
- They are forgetful and less intelligent. Just 1 in 9 Americans 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease, says the Alzheimer’s Association. Most seniors have sharp minds that reflect decades of experience, education and learning new skills.
- They are inflexible and unable to adapt to new situations. On the contrary, seniors have learned to adapt to numerous changes throughout their lives. Like most of us, they may have brief periods of adjustment to new situations but generally adapt with a little time.
- All retirement communities are institutional. Walk into most independent living or assisted living communities, like Country Meadows, and you likely will hear laughter, smell freshly baked cookies, taste restaurant-style food or see residents toasting at happy hour in warm but bright environments. Communities are in more home-like settings than clinical, hospital-like buildings. Rather than dry and sterile, they are vibrant and abuzz with social activities.
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities’ 11 campuses, we find that our active residents disprove these myths every day by participating in daily physical, intellectual and creative activities.
Our active retirement communities keep residents engaged and involved
If you are choosing a senior living community and looking for one where residents remain engaged and active, we would like to talk with you. We would be glad to show you any of our Pennsylvania retirement communities or our retirement community in Maryland and tell you about our independent living communities and our assisted living or personal care homes.
In Pennsylvania, we have senior apartments at 10 retirement communities—in Lancaster County as well as Dauphin, Cumberland, York (South and West), Berks, Lehigh, Northampton (Bethlehem and Easton) and Allegheny. Our Maryland retirement community is in Frederick County. Please contact us for information or to schedule a visit so we can introduce you to our campus, staff and wide array of services.